March 2, 2017 by Rob Newell
Despite the wicked 20 mile-per-hour north winds which lashed Lake Seminole on day one of the Costa FLW Series event, the weights were still pretty decent.
Tournament leader John Duvall had nothing to lose after a horrible practice and just went practicing again to rack up 25 pounds for the tournament lead, but just behind him it took at least a 20-pound bag to get inside the top five.
While the winds hampered the bank beaters and sight peepers, those fishing out a little deeper seemed to have fared the best. Here’s a little closer look inside the top five.
2. Buddy Gross – Chickamauga, Ga. – 24-3
After a great start at the Costa FLW Series Southeastern opener on Lake Okeechobee with a top 10, Buddy Gross is backing it up with yet another impressive catch at Seminole to start the event in second place.
Gross spent some of practice looking up shallow for bedders, but didn’t like what he saw and retreated the type of water he likes best – fishing out.
“Sight-fishing is not exactly my strong suit,” Gross says. “So I quit fooling with it and moved out there where I feel more comfortable.”
With that, Gross went in search of deeper hydrilla that offers more stability to fish that are moving up from deep water. He found three places with deeper, thicker hydrilla adjacent to spawning flats.
“I went to the first place this morning and there was a school set up on it just right,” Gross says. “I caught most of that weight I weighed in about 45 minutes then I sort of guarded the area for a while. I’ve got a couple of more places like it, but I’ll spend more time on them tomorrow.”
3. Rodger Beaver – Dawson, Ga. – 21-11
Well-known local Rodger Beaver got his tournament started off on the right foot on day one with a 21-pound, 11-ounce catch to put him in third.
Beaver has fished Seminole for many years and perhaps he put it best when he said, “Right now Seminole is fishing like it normally does at the end of April.”
For that reason, Beaver has given up the sight-fishing gig, adding that the backwater areas are already spent. Instead, he is fishing deeper sandbars where bass usually bed later in the year.
“They’re already on those deeper bars,” Beaver says. “Now I think a lot of them are still kind of staging up around those bars, but those fish out there are ready to go.”
In addition, Beaver is also swimming a jig in shallower vegetation for any fry guarders that might still be hanging around.
4. Bradford Beavers – Ridgeville, S.C. – 20-5
Bradford Beavers came to Seminole looking to fish up real shallow for spawners, but had to back out a little deeper in the 3- to 5-foot range for his catch of 20 pounds, 5 ounces.
“I’m not real sure what these fish are doing out there where I caught them today,” Beavers says. “They might be staging up out there or they might just be spawning out there since so much of the back water is already grown up here. I hit one spot this morning where I Power-Poled down and caught five pretty quickly in on little, tiny area.”
Due to the wind, Beavers had to resort to a bait that he didn’t even have tied on.
“I had no idea the wind would be so bad where I was,” he says. “I had planned on using the lure that produced a few bites for me in practice. But after I made about three casts with it, I realized that wasn’t going to work out too well. So I had to get down in the boat and tie on some completely different lures that would work in the wind – but they still bit them, so it worked out.”
5. Randy Haynes – Counce, Tenn. – 20-3
Randy Haynes rounds out the top five with a 20-pound, 3-ounce catch.
“I went looking and I found them,” Haynes says.
But don’t be confused by his words. Haynes was not “looking” with his eyes; instead, he went “looking” with his electronics to find fish that are still deep.
“I tried all that bed fishing stuff, but it doesn’t work for me,” he explains. “So with just a little bit of practice left, I went looking out deep with my electronics and I found one pretty good place. I just wish I had looked out more during practice to see if I could find more like it. I actually spent some time graphing around during the tournament today to see if I could find anything else and found some interesting looking stuff so we’ll see tomorrow.”